Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

June 27, 2007

Audacity Defined: Congress Gives Itself A Pay Raise

by Doug Mataconis

Notwithstanding record low approval ratings, it appears that the members of the House of Representatives think they’re entitled to a pay raise:

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – Despite record-low approval ratings, House lawmakers Wednesday voted to accept an approximately $4,400 pay raise that will increase their salaries to almost $170,000.

The cost-of-living raise gets lawmakers back on track for automatic pay raises after a fight between Democrats and Republicans last year and again in January killed the pay hike due this year. That was the first interruption of the annual congressional pay hike in seven years.

The blowup came after Democrats last year fulfilled a campaign promise to deny themselves a pay hike until Congress raised the minimum wage. Delays in the minimum wage bill cost every lawmaker about $3,100 this year.

On a 244-181 vote Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans alike killed a bid by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Lee Terry, R-Neb., to get a direct vote to block the COLA, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it. The Senate has not indicated when it will deal with a similar measure.

Unlike those lucky folks on Capitol Hill and the rest of the people who work for, or receive benefits from, the Federal Government, most of us aren’t entitled to a pay raise just because the “cost of living” has increased.

But, of course, we’re the little people. And they deserve it.

Right ?

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  • Dave

    Doug,

    Are you sure that the Congressmen didn’t make the pay raise RETROACTIVE??? I never heard of them allowing themselves to lose $$$$$

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  • cd1234567891

    (IMO) it is fiscal irresponsibility to increase Congress’ pay at a time when the US Government is spending billions and billions of dollars on war, and has a stratospheric budget deficit. The minimum wage compromise no longer provides cover on this issue, since the war has dragged on and on.

    The battle is not over yet. The Senate also has to act. Further, on 6/29/07, U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell [D, Arizona] introduced legislation that would block the automatic pay raise (bill number not yet assigned).

    The House voting record in favor of no debate on the automatic pay raise (H.Res.517) can be found at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll580.xml .
    Email your House representative and Senators to let them know:

    No more pay increases for Congress until the War is OVER.

  • Art

    Check out what happened in Dallas …

    Dallas’ inaugural tab tops $30,000

    More than half spent on breakfast event as costs beat ’05 festivities

    02:56 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 3, 2007

    By DAVE LEVINTHAL / The Dallas Morning News
    dlevinthal@dallasnews.com

    With Dallas craving more police officers, fewer potholes and a host of enhanced services, some City Council members vowed to curtail their biennial inauguration festivities, which in 2005 taxpayers spent nearly $30,000 to conduct.

    “I’m happy to say, ‘It’s fine with me if we do without it,’ ” then-Mayor Laura Miller said afterward.

    Wishful thinking it was: This year’s inauguration cost even more than before.

    In all, the city spent $30,373.59 to install its new council June 25 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. More than half of that went toward a pre-inaugural breakfast for hundreds of dignitaries and invited guests and flowers for their tables, according to city records.

    Other public expenditures include video and photography services, certificate frames, invitations, programs, decorations, “greenery/ferns” and gifts for outgoing and incoming council members. City Hall’s Office of Cultural Affairs spent a couple of thousand dollars on staffing, musicians and overtime pay.

    Considering Dallas’ 2006-07 municipal budget is about $2.34 billion, the $35,000 that council members authorized for the celebration is but a tiny fraction.

    What City Hall ultimately spent is enough, however, to buy nearly 11,000 gallons of gasoline to fuel city vehicles. Or purchase a few dozen AR-15 police assault rifles. Or fund a new code enforcement officer’s salary for a year.

    “This isn’t really showing concern for our citizens’ dollars,” said council member Mitchell Rasansky, who alone voted against Dallas’ budget last year. “We really ought to have the inaugural in our council chambers. It doesn’t need to be this expensive.”

    Dallas did receive at least $11,500 in private funds and in-kind contributions for the inauguration, not including several entertainment groups who performed for free. And although the breakfast ceremony was exclusive, anyone could attend Mayor Tom Leppert’s inaugural address and ceremony.

    It’s worth the expense to produce a tasteful, memorable inauguration that honors elected public officials and invites the public to participate, freshman council member Tennell Atkins said.

    “Voters love to have the opportunity to see their representative and be with him or her on such a special occasion,” Mr. Atkins said. “You don’t want to spend too much. But I couldn’t invite all the people I wanted to the breakfast. In the future, we should have the opportunity to invite as many people as we can.”

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